Morgan William (Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page)

No. 6 MSU uses late push to defeat LSU, advance in SEC Tournament

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Mississippi State bounced back into the win column Friday afternoon. Before a large Maroon and White crowd at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, No. 2 seed Mississippi State exploded in the fourth quarter for a 78-61 win over No. 7 seed LSU in the third round of the Southeastern Conference Women's Basketball Tournament.

Ranked No. 6/7 nationally, MSU will face either No. 3 seed Missouri or No. 6 seed Texas A&M in Saturday's second semifinal. State's game, which will be televised by ESPNU, will start 25 minutes after the first semifinal between Kentucky and South Carolina which is set for 4 p.m. CT. WLZA-FM 96.1 will have the radio broadcast.

This marks back-to-back semifinal-round appearances for the Bulldogs, who bypassed the first two rounds of the tournament by finishing second in the league. It is the first time in program history State has advanced to the semifinals in consecutive seasons.

MSU (28-3) matched the school record for victories in a season. The Bulldogs snapped a two-game losing streak but were not assured of victory until Ketara Chapel hit a couple of key shots and Morgan William took over from the point guard position in the fourth quarter.

William had 21 points and seven assists to lead the Bulldogs. William was 10-of-11 at the foul line. Teaira McCowan added 15 points, while Breanna Richardson had 12 points and Chapel had 10 points. Dominique Dillingham also had seven assists.

"Really want to commend LSU for an excellent game," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "They caused us some problems in the first half. In the second half, Morgan was really big for us. She really took over the leadership of the team. Ketara was 4-of-4 in the second half and we needed that. I really thought we wore them down in the second half."

The Bulldogs started strong offensively. A layup by McCowan pushed the Bulldogs out to a 17-10 lead. The lead would grow to eight but be six at 21-15 after one quarter of play.

LSU bounced back for a 23-23 tie. Things were nip-and-tuck the rest of the half with the Bulldogs leading 30-29 at the break.

"I was really proud of the toughness and resilience of my team in the second half," Schaefer said. "We defended better and did a better job of getting to the 50-50 balls."

Still, the Bulldogs would not find separation until a 33-point fourth quarter. A McCowan old-fashioned 3-point play put MSU up eight at 61-53 with four minutes to play.

Two minutes later William extended the lead to 10 with a pair of free throws. Victoria Vivians then added a bucket and free throw to give the Dawgs a double-digit advantage they would not relinquish.

For the contest, MSU hit 28 of 50 shots from the field (56.0 percent), 2 of 11 shots from 3-point range (18.2 percent) and 20 of 21 shots from the foul line (95.2 percent). LSU hit 28 of 54 shots from the field (51.9 percent), 0 of 5 shots from 3-point range (0 percent), 5 of 9 shots from the foul line (55.6 percent).

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